Serving as the lone high school All-American event of the year, the 2021 Iverson Classic featured some of the nation's top seniors, with No. 1 overall prospect Chet Holmgren and No. 2 overall prospect Paolo Banchero considered the two headliners. Kentucky's two signees in the class of 2021, five-star forward Daimion Collins and four-star forward Bryce Hopkins, were also in attendance, as was major UK point guard target TyTy Washington. KSR was in attendance all weekend to watch Collins, Hopkins and Washington in action, where the trio of prospects competed alongside and against the nation's top standouts in various competitions, scrimmages and the official game Saturday evening. How did Kentucky's duo of signees perform throughout the weekend? What about Washington, who is set to announce his commitment on May 15?
Daimion CollinsCollins came in as arguably the top prospect in the nation in terms of pure potential, and he proved that in practices, scrimmages and the official game. He has flashes of brilliance, throwing down impressive putback slams, bringing the ball up the floor on fast breaks for coast-to-coast finishes, and swatting a shot or four into the stands on defense. But his potential remains exactly that at this point in time, potential. Standing 6-foot-9, 200 pounds, Collins was manhandled in the post on numerous occasions and struggled to grab rebounds over some of the event's stronger participants. He looked lost at times throughout the weekend, specifically on the offensive end of the floor. His natural defensive instincts, elite athleticism and second-to-none length will certainly create easy cleanup looks and block opportunities on defense, but Collins' basketball journey is just beginning. He's not even close to scratching the surface of who he can (and will) be in the coming years, so patience will likely be necessary. Talking to Collins' father after the event, there wasn't a concern about a lack of playing time or some of the minor struggles. They understand that he just started playing competitive basketball at 16 years old, compared to the majority of other participants starting their development in the early stages of grade school. He doesn't lift weights and isn't on a serious diet plan for adding muscle and healthy weight, as that process is set to begin when the five-star forward arrives on campus in the coming weeks. On that note, Collins' father also confirmed that they will be in Lexington on May 29 to begin the move-in process. -- Jack Pilgrim
Sticking with that point, it's undeniable that Daimion Collins has some work to do in the weight room this summer. After doing very little of that during his high school career, his entire offseason in Lexington should be spent pumping iron; Collins needs to live around weights the next several months. Going up against the likes of Oscar Tshiebwe and Lance Ware every day in practice should help beef him up, as well. Until he can bulk up enough to power through the defense instead of over it, Collins will remain below his level of potential. But even if he doesn't, his ceiling is still too high to reach right now. However, as Jack said, it comes in flashes. Collins didn't receive too much burn during the actual All-American game itself, showing brief signs of a potential NBA lottery pick along the way, but mostly looking out of place. Not that he didn't belong on the court, because he most certainly does, there just wasn't an obvious desire to come out and dunk on everyone and everything in front of him. Perhaps that's just his nature right now as a skinny kid with little experience in organized basketball. In reality, how much does a 5-star prospect who has earned every award and recognition under the sun need to go out and prove he belongs on that stage? What Collins did showcase was glimmers of greatness: sprinting down the floor on fastbreaks, following back missed shots for easy scores, a smooth jump shot that he wasn't afraid to let fly from beyond the arc. He possesses a combination of skills that are unique to only a select (albeit, growing) few. The adjustment period to the college game after playing against weaker high school competition compared to his peers could come with some growing pains, but he's shown over the last two years just how quickly he can adapt. -- Zack Geoghegan
Bryce HopkinsThe biggest question about Hopkins going into his college basketball career comes down to his position. At 6-foot-7, 240 pounds, is he skilled and quick enough to be a three? Is he big and long enough to defend as a four? At the Iverson Classic, I genuinely think Hopkins proved he can play either position, and do it well. From the first scrimmage, it was clear that Hopkins was a work horse, ready to battle down low to fight for rebounds and finish tough shots at the basket. He may not be the tallest or longest, but the energy and toughness is undeniable, something Kentucky desperately needed this past season. And he knows that. "I’ve been talking to Coach Cal, he’s been saying that last year they were lacking the grit and the rebounding, stuff like that," Hopkins told KSR at the event. "I feel like, coming from Chicago, I bring that to the table. I’m going to go in there, give everything I have, and do what’s best for the team." But he's not limited to clean-up scoring opportunities at the rim. Hopkins is also extremely comfortable with the ball in his hands and spent a lot of time initiating the offense on the perimeter and taking tough, controlled drives to the basket. He also participated in the 3-point contest and shot fairly well, which shouldn't come as a surprise to those who have seen him play in high school. With a unique mix of guard skills, along with size and post moves as a forward, Hopkins' versatility is quite intriguing. The UK forward signee isn't the quickest or most athletic, but he's incredibly skilled and has a college-ready game. -- Jack Pilgrim
If there was one player I'm glad I got to watch more than anyone else, it would be Bryce Hopkins. In terms of what we know about the Illinois native, he's a bit of a question mark, no thanks to COVID-19. From a college-ready standpoint, Hopkins has the size to compete right away and a budding set of skills that indicate he could be a starting-caliber player a year or two down the road. Slimming down a bit while adding muscle will help his overall ability to play defense against quicker guards and bigger forwards. At 6-foot-7 with the ability to score and rebound, he could play multiple positions from the jump. While Hopkins didn't get much of an opportunity to showcase his scoring abilities, he had a knack for trying to make a play. Sometimes his aggressiveness got the best of him, but more often than not, he brought the ball up the floor with confidence and was always looking to make something happen. The release on his jumpshot could come off a bit quicker, but the mechanics of it don't raise any concerns. Versatility might end up being his calling card early on during his Kentucky career. He won't be the best shooter, the best rebounder, the best defender, or the best playmaker right away, but he'll be one of the few who can do a little bit of everything with an acceptable output. This doesn't mean he can't one day build himself into a knockdown shooter or an elite under-sized rebounder, but it's hard to pinpoint right now what his best attribute is--although that isn't necessarily a bad thing. -- Zack Geoghegan
TyTy WashingtonWashington played sparingly in the Friday morning scrimmage, but made a few solid passes and looked to get his teammates involved rather than finding scoring opportunities for himself. He made his first real statement of the event Friday evening during the 3-point contest, stepping up on short notice - he decided to join the competition late - and winning the entire thing. It was a quick, effortless shot with great mechanics and consistent release, backing up his 41 percent mark from three as a senior this past season. The UK target started the official game on Saturday simply looking to facilitate and make plays for his teammates, quickly getting the ball out of his hands and serving as a secondary and even tertiary backcourt option -- he ran the three at various points, despite standing just 6-foot-3. You kept waiting for Washington to initiate and make plays for himself, but the only scoring opportunities he sought early on came off an open baseline floater, a drive from the top of the key for another short floater, and a catch-and-shoot 3-point make from the top of the key. For the first three quarters, his focus was entirely on getting his teammates involved. Down going into the fourth quarter, though, a brand new side of the UK target was unleashed, taking the game over as a scorer. After scoring just seven points in the first half, Washington exploded for 15 points in the second half and extended the 'target score' period - four makes from three and three free throws on a fouled 3-point attempt - to finish with 22 points in the game. As a ball-handler, initiator, facilitator, playmaker and shooter, Washington did it all, easily closing out the game as one of the top performers. -- Jack Pilgrim
If there was anyone at this event who proved they could take over the game at a moment's notice, it was TyTy Washington. He was biding his time throughout the early stages, deferring to the plethora of 5-star wings and guards sprinting up and down the floor alongside him but made an impact through his passing and even a little bit on defense. His athleticism doesn't stand out, but he makes up for it with great instincts and an improving frame. Had it not been for the Elam Ending in which Washington exploded, as Jack said above, we might be having an entirely different conversation around him. Up until that point, he played more like he was just going through the motions as opposed to someone with star potential. Like Collins, Washington wasn't one of the top two or three players there but he is a 5-star who has soared in recruiting rankings as of late and knows his value. It wasn't until his team was down double-digits late and he finally slid into the role of primary ball-handler that Washington decided to dive into his bag. There was one possession in particular where Washington missed an open triple after having just connected on one not long before. At this point he was constantly pushing the offense, trying to find points in a hurry, and he got off a good, clean look that just didn't fall. However, one of his teammates corralled the miss and quickly dished it back out to Washington who didn't even consider hesitating before hoisting up another shot from distance that was nothing but net. He played the part of a level-headed floor general with a dangerous jump shot to boot. If Kentucky can ultimately land his services, Washington can absolutely earn his spot as John Calipari's starting point guard from day one. -- Zack Geoghegan
In case you missed the game, you can find the complete replay below: https://youtu.be/na9tyaI18aM